Young Lions ace admits 'fine margins' could prove costly

Saturday 24 Oct 2015
Ro-Shaun Williams, centre, flanked by keeper Alfie Whiteman and captain Tom Davies

Ro-Shaun Williams says if the FIFA Under-17s has taught him anything, then it is that “fine margins” go a long way. 

The Manchester United defender is in Chile with the England squad hoping that results go their way elsewhere in the final group matches to see them reach the last 16 of the showpiece as one of the best third-placed sides.

The 17-year-old helped his country record a clean sheet against South Korea on Friday evening. But his team-mates further up the field were unable to convert any of their 22 shots as the contest ended goalless resulting in his side finishing with two points in Group B.

England 0-0 South Korea

FIFA U17 World Cup
Group B
Estadio Francisco Sanchez Rumoroso, Coquimbo, Chile
Friday 23 October 2015 

“We are so disappointed we didn’t get the win we desperately wanted but now we just have to hope that the other results go our way and we still go through,” said the Manchester-born youngster.

“It was really frustrating for all of us, we did what we have been doing in training but we just couldn’t get the finish we needed. It’s been difficult for the team but the defence has done well and we’ve restricted the opposition to very few chances. 

“It’s been a big lesson for me and all the boys of how important it is to take your chances in big matches. It’s been fine margins that have cost us and when we have been on top we should really have killed teams off.”

Despite their hopes of remaining in the competition being slim, the big 6ft 3ins ace is refusing to take his eye off the ball. 

“It’s important we stay focussed so that if someone does do us a favour then we are ready go. If we do get the chance then we really want to show people what we are about and start winning games.

“It will be a knockout round and we know that we have to win, we believe in ourselves that we can beat anyone, so we are desperate for a chance to show what we can do.”

Williams has been one of the standout performers for Neil Dewsnip’s side in South America.

His athleticism and defending qualities, alongside the performances of Easah Suliman, have ensured the Young Lions remained firm at the back.

But despite his commanding and vocal qualities on the pitch, Williams says he is a lot more reserved off it.

Ro-Shaun Williams in action against Guinea

Ro-Shaun Williams in action against Guinea

“I think every coach wants their defenders to communicate as we can see everything from the back. If we are communicating then that will obviously help the team.

“I wouldn’t say it comes natural to me, it’s something I’ve been working on,” he admitted.

“I’m not on Twitter or Facebook, I’m not really big on social media. I just like to do my job on the pitch and win games.

“It’s OK to have it, but I just like to concentrate on my game and keep things to myself.”

Having endured a difficult season by his own admission last campaign, one thing that has had the quiet centre-half shouting again has been his return to the international set-up.

“I got injured before the Euro qualifiers at the start of last season so I was not included in the squad for that, and the lads that came in did really well so I couldn’t break into the set-up for the European Championship.

“Maybe it was because of injury or maybe it was down to my form, but this year I wanted no excuse. It’s been great to get back into the England team. It’s been an honour, and even more so to do that at a World Cup.”

Although he is a man that likes to let his football do the talking, Williams did hit the headlines last summer when he broke a 25-year-old school sprinting record set by Olympic gold medallist Darren Campbell.

Williams, then 15, ran the 100m in 10.99 seconds, breaking Campbell's Ashton-on-Mersey School record of 11.13 seconds set in 1989.

But despite his obvious asset in the pace department, Williams insists he only likes to use that weapon as a last resort out on the field.

“It was in a school race. We were competing against the other forms and I managed to win, then I found out I’d broken the record. I heard that he had sent out a tweet to congratulate me,” he added.

“But when I’m out on the pitch I just try to get into the best position I can to stop attacks, so I try not to rely on my speed and only use it as a last resort.”

By Gary Stonehouse Staff Writer in La Serena, Chile